I’ve just got off an Air China flight from Nanjing to Beijing. It was a smooth flight. The only inconveniences were the usual fellow passengers occasionally clearing their throats noisily and spitting into the motion sickness bags.
Getting off the flight involved a scrum of elbows as passengers in the back of the flight tried to beat the ones in front out of the door.
All in all, a smooth experience _ and it got me to thinking.
Here is what you don’t see in China: You don’t see enraged passengers reaching across airline counters and shaking fingers at quivering airline employees. You don’t see people drinking way too much on flights and making scenes. In other words, you don’t see behavior that goes beyond boorish to the realms of freakish and even dangerous.
In China, I never look around and hope there’s an air marshal nearby.
I got an email from a reader in Massachusetts recently voicing surprise at the lack of road rage in China. It’s true. There’s plenty of muttering among drivers, and an occasional shout. But I never see drivers, pedestrians or cyclists really lose it. Just about everywhere else outside of Asia, I’ve seen that.
I was once in a taxi in Honduras. A bus cut off the cab during a traffic jam. Traffic drew to a halt. The taxi driver reached under his seat, pulled out a crowbar, walked in front of the bus, then smashed both its headlights while proffering a flurry of insults. I was astonished and feared I might be caught in a crowbar-flinging version of World War III.
So here’s an excerpt from the email from reader Thomas Gorton:
I have been to China three times in the past 2 1/2 years and fell in love with the country and her people. I went there for an almost blind date and ended up marrying that date. My wife is now legally here in the States. As for a suggestion for a future story, here it is: on my first trip to Nanning in Guangxi province, and subsequent trips, I spent a lot of time in taxi cabs. Traffic was fairly well controlled but not like here in America. People cutting in and out and frequently cutting across oncoming lanes. Narrow side streets were often blocked by parked motor bikes etc. No one ever got upset or impatient that I witnessed. No one! Road rage, so prevalent here, seemed to be totally non-existent there. Is that true throughout China? Must be I figure.
So that's my suggestion. A column on the lack of road rage and why. It was refreshing to see, but then China is too.
Hopefully I'll read it soon.
You just did.